Two clever products help people drink smarter.

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A hangover is a pretty simple equation: too much alcohol = hangover. It's a combo platter of dehydration and the byproducts of how your liver processes alcohol, namely acetaldehyde and formaldehyde. The latter is also used to embalm corpses, a feeling anyone who's ever been really hungover knows extremely well.

drinking illustration
Credit: Illustration by Gabriel Hollington

There are hundreds and hundreds of supposed hangover remedies and cures and panaceas, most all of them utterly useless. The problem is that once you have a hangover, there's not a lot you can do about it, sort of the way that if you hit yourself in the head with a hammer, your head is going to hurt. You can numb the pain somewhat, but really the best remedy is don't hit yourself with a hammer in the first place.

SoBar protein bars for drinking
Credit: Zeno Functional Foods LLC

So: prevention. That's where the SoBar comes in. I admit, I was skeptical at first. Created by Joseph Fisher, a Stanford M.D./Ph.D., SoBar is a protein bar designed to slow the absorption of alcohol as you drink, giving you a lower, more stable blood-alcohol level; it's essentially a science-driven improvement on the basic proposition that eating something before drinking keeps you from getting so drunk (a couple of SoBars, which have 130 calories each, work close to as well as a full meal). They also reduce the overall level of alcohol absorption by allowing for more alcohol metabolization by the enzymes in your stomach lining (rather than your small intestine, which basically shoots the booze straight into your bloodstream). I experimented with them at length and determined two things: SoBars definitely slow that glide-path of intoxication, which in turn-for me at least-helped minimize next-day despair. And, they taste excellent. Especially the caramel macchiato flavor.

Wingman sparkling water with electrolytes
Credit: Wingman Corp.

Then there's Käter Wingman. This new zero-calorie sparkling water offers a clever workaround, as far as I'm concerned, to reducing hangover risk. Basically, drinking water while you drink alcohol is smart. So why not put sparkling water in a longneck beer bottle, so you can look cool why you hydrate? Add in some electrolytes for good measure, plus a niftily designed label, and you may find, as I did, that you forget to drink more alcohol because you're having enough fun just drinking water (I vote for the grapefruit flavor). And you awake with way less of that pesky embalmed-corpse feeling. Now if they could only make a Champagne-bottle-sized version….